- Uber and Lyft have taken the world by storm.
- Business Insider spoke to more than twenty drivers to learn more about what it’s like to work for the apps.
- Topping the list of complaints is smelly food and crumbs, but other pet peeves might surprise some riders.
Every day, an army of nearly four million drivers provide 16 million rides and deliveries across the world for Uber, according to numbers the company provided ahead of its massive IPO.
Those drivers meet all sorts of passengers, both the good and the bad.
In recent months, Business Insider has spoken to more than twenty drivers for both Uber and Lyft (as well as other apps, including Via) to learn about their experience working on the platform.
Together, these verified drivers have provided more than 10,000 rides on the Uber and Lyft apps. Business Insider is publishing only their first names and general work area in order to allow them to keep their privacy.
Every driver we spoke to has had problems with rude or smelly passengers, and tips are often few and far between, even with the addition of a tip function into the Uber app about two years ago. Still, our interviews show a workplace that’s highly flexible around a driver’s busy schedule, and instant payments are a big plus for those who need the money quickly.
Have you driven for Uber? Have a story to share? You can reach the author of this story at email@example.com.
Here are driver’s biggest pet peeves when it comes to the passenger in their backseat:
Eating smelly foods
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Noxious smells easily topped the list, with almost every single driver complaining about pungent food odors
"You get to eat your takeout when you get home, but the smell can linger into the next trips," Michael, who drives for Uber in Virginia, said in an interview. "It’s not a huge deal, but if it’s something strong it can be annoying. It’s also bad when I’m hungry."
Then there’s the issue of crumbs. No one wants to get into a dirty car, and drivers don’t want to take time out of their day to clean up after you.
Another driver, Matt from Wisconsin, said he doesn’t mind going through drive-thru windows for passengers if they ask, but on one condition: "I tell them, we can absolutely go to Taco Bell or KFC of whatever, but you have to wait to open it until I drop you off."
Food smells are a matter of personal preference in most cases, but the odor of marijuana — or even the perception of — can cause even bigger headaches for a driver.
"If you smell like weed, I have to air out the car before picking up the next person," Mahmoud, who drives in Los Angeles, said. "I don’t care necessarily, but I have to protect myself. The person who gets in next could complain or say I was driving under the influence."
Other drivers have complained that a complaint by a rider that the car smells like marijuana, or that the driver could be driving under the influence, can get them automatically removed from the Uber platform temporarily. These can usually be resolved quickly, but can still cause an unexpected interruption in somebody’s income.
"I’ve had this happen to me too many times to count," said Toni, who drives in New York.
Disagreeing with the route
Many riders take Uber to or from their home, where they might know the streets really well. Still, Uber provides drivers with a GPS-based route and encourages them to follow those directions.
"We DO have a GPS," Jenny said. "Some people will try to tell you where to go because they don’t like the GPS route, and then will get mad and leave fewer stars when I follow it."
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